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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Jun 3, 2011 10:59am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: "Marshmallow Ears"

Just stumbled on some interesting old stuff from the Village Voice's Robt Christgau.

A review, not of the music, but of the crowd atmosphere at the ’71 Felt Forum shows. It’s from the time, which is always way more fascinating than latter-day rainbow-colored memories.

http://www.robertchristgau.com/xg/bk-aow/dead.php

Here's the link to 12/5/71. Wonderful. I'm really attached to this Comes a Time. (Interesting to find an account of what it was like at the show.)

http://www.archive.org/details/gd1971-12-05.fm.matera.100316.sbeok.flac16

Btw, on the same site are some interesting mini-reviews on the albums, band and scene, mostly written, it seems, in the 90s.

In 1992: “The preserve of a huge, insular cult accustomed to rendering its very real aesthetic discriminations within a context so uncritical no outsider need pay them the slightest mind, the Dead ... were a great band--probably still are on the right night. But trying to convince an unbeliever is like trying to tell a stranger about LSD.”

And this one: “For years I've sought concrete proof that two decades of Deadheads weren't the marshmallow-ears the world believed ..."

http://www.robertchristgau.com/get_artist.php?name=Grateful+Dead

edit and bump: For the record, I think it's really obnoxious to bump something to the top. Kinda the forum version of gate crashing. But, well, I looked at the page again and it went:

One person: "Wharf Rats?"
Next person: "Marshmallow Ears?"

Ouch. Just didn't look right. So, sorry!!!




This post was modified by AltheaRose on 2011-06-03 17:59:31

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Poster: bkidwell Date: Jun 4, 2011 3:03am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'Marshmallow Ears'

Minor rant here - as a classical music lover, I have always thought most rock music criticism was the absolute worst, most useless and ignorant writing about music imaginable. To the average rock critic, music began in the 1950s, with a vague awareness that some blues musicians of earlier decades should be given obligatory praise. In their worldview, music should not be judged on musical content - probably because they have almost no knowledge of the technical nature of the art - but rather on how well the music reflects whatever cultural trend of the moment that the critic deems significant.

The epitome of this tendency is the absurd amount of critical gush bestowed on mediocre music of the early Punk years simply because it can be seen as a signifier of the "raw and rebellious nature of rock" or some other piece of semiotic puffery.

The Grateful Dead have always suffered terribly at the hands of these ignorant critics who wouldn't know a common-tone modulation if it bit them on their tin ears but know that tie-dye and the scent of patchouli can serve as a springboard for a short essay on How the Hippies Were Spoiled Children and other such "musical" topics.

One of the most typical manifestations of Philistinism is the insane and woefully ignorant notion that three minutes is the God-given time limit for a "song" and only being lost in a haze of drugs could produce - GASP - a twenty minute section of continuous music.

I guess someone forgot to tell every single major composer of the western tradition that every musical concept needs to be stated in the attention span of a newt. Shame on those "self-indulgent" composers and their delusion that music can be more than five repetitions of a three chord verse and chorus!

This post was modified by bkidwell on 2011-06-04 10:03:17

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Jun 4, 2011 7:46am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'Marshmallow Ears'

"Semiotic puffery" ... I love it. Go get 'em, bk!

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Poster: skuzzlebutt Date: Jun 3, 2011 11:16am
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'Marshmallow Ears'

Cool post. Christgau was always a tad kinder to the GD than some of his peers.

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Poster: unclejohn52 Date: Jun 3, 2011 4:29pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'Marshmallow Ears'

I always had mixed feelings about Christgau - he could be such a pompous, pretentious ass, but there was usually some kernel of truth once you cut through all the bloviating. There were plenty of his "faithful" who would follow him blindly, back in the days when Rolling Stone was the final word. Thankfully the band never paid him too much attention, and neither did I.

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Poster: AltheaRose Date: Jun 3, 2011 10:32pm
Forum: GratefulDead Subject: Re: 'Marshmallow Ears'

Yeah, remember when Rolling Stone mattered? I have conversations with my kid about things like how important this thing called "albums" used to be, and how everyone his age listened to "the radio" ...

I used to read Village Voice religiously, too. Well, not in '71, LOL. But it was the ultimate in Hip. (Is it still? In NY? I have no idea.)

What's particularly fascinating to me with time-capsule comments like those is the way it can be a bit of a corrective or reminder. I think the GD are now rather respected and looked at fondly by the press and general public (albeit not particularly listened to by most) ... I mean, Lifetime Achievement Awards and meeting Obama and Truckin being declared, what, a National Treasure or something ... so it can be easy to forget exactly how "marshmallow ear-ish" their fans really were thought to be, at least by the 80s and 90s. The early 70s being a whole different deal (as captured by the review).